Cologne - Following their 2-1 win at home to RB Leipzig on Matchday 33, FC Ingolstadt 04's remarkable rise to the top has continued with promotion to the promised land of the Bundesliga as 2014/15 second-tier champions.
In honour of the occasion, allow bundesliga.com to bring you up to speed on the Bavarian side with ten little-known facts about the club...
New kids on the block
The ‘04’ at the end of Ingolstadt’s full club name stands for 2004, the year they were founded, and their maiden game took place that same year against Borussia Mönchengladbach in front of 4,086 supporters. The new club was a fusion of the footballing divisions of MTV Ingolstadt and ESV Ingolstadt. By the end of the season they had been promoted to the Regionalliga Süd after finishing second in the Bayernliga.
Ingolstadt is the youngest of all the big cities in Germany, after passing the 100,000 inhabitants mark in 1989. The population has grown by around 27,000 since then. Lying on the Danube river, Ingolstadt is approximately 80 kilometres due north of the Bavarian capital Munich. Car manufacturer Audi, the club's main sponsor, has its base in the city, while Ingolstadt was also the setting of the Mary Shelley novel Frankenstein.
Ingolstadt’s new home, the Audi Sportpark, was opened on 24 July 2010 following 14 months of construction. The 15,700 capacity arena seats around 9,000 fans and has standing room for approximately 6,000 more. FCI officially moved into their new premises from the ESV Stadion at the beginning of August that year.
Into Bundesliga 2
On 31 May 2008 die Schanzer secured promotion into Bundesliga 2 thanks to a 2-0 win over SpVgg Unterhaching, an achievement orchestrated by head coach Thorsten Fink, who had joined during the winter break. They were relegated back to the third division in 2008/09, but bounced straight back up again the following year after beating FC Hansa Rostock in the play-offs.
“Schanzi”, a red dragon, who wears the No.4 jersey, has been the official mascot since 2012. He symbolises the city’s historic past, with the dragon shown on the club's emblem reflecting the defiance that the fortress of Ingolstadt showed over the centuries, most notably in 1632 when it survived a siege by invading Swedish armies.
In an interview given in 2011, the chairman of Ingolstadt’s supervisory board, Martin Wagener, said he was eyeing promotion to Bundesliga in 2014 at the very latest. “But if we have to wait until 2015, I’d be delighted with that too.” It turns out he wasn’t too far off with his prediction. Recovering from a 3-2 defeat to VfL Bochum on Matchday 32, Wagener's team have finally delivered on his promise following victory over Leipzig.
Club top scorer
Despite hanging up his boots for good in 2013, midfielder Stefan Leitl still leads the way as Ingolstadt's all-time leading scorer. The attacking midfielder, born in Munich, scored a total of 46 goals in 190 appearances from the club, with 25 of those strikes coming in Bundesliga 2.
Ingolstadt’s fan base has grown steadily since the club’s inception just over a decade ago. While just over 4,000 spectators watched their inaugural match, now more than 15,000 supporters pass through the turnstiles at every home game. Ingolstadt are followed by 39,344 fans on Facebook and have approximately 27,000 followers on Twitter. FCI now even have their own app to provide the latest news and information on the goings-on at the club.
The team’s nickname is rooted in the city’s history. When Ingolstadt became a fort in 1806 it earned the moniker die Schanz, meaning “entrenched” and deriving from the German word verschanzen, "to fortify". This also explains why some people in Ingolstadt still refer to natives as Schanzer.
He has already worked alongside Ottmar Hitzfeld, winning five German championships and the UEFA Champions League twice. Assistant coach at Ingolstadt since 2013, there isn't much that Michael Henke doesn't know about football.